Iowa women may breastfeed their children in any public place

An unfortunate incident at a public pool in Dubuque prompted that city to update its written policies this week to permit “breastfeeding in a public swimming pool or deck area at the mother’s discretion.” On Monday, KCRG’s Katie Wiedemann interviewed the woman whom lifeguards asked to retreat to a private place to nurse her baby. Thanks in part to advocacy by the non-profit Family Friendly Business Initiative, Dubuque officials quickly brought their policies into compliance with state law, Wiedemann reported today.

Whether or not other Iowa cities have similar written policies, breastfeeding mothers should know that they need no special permission to nurse their babies in public parks or recreation areas. Since 2000, Iowa Code 135.30A has stated, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a woman may breast-feed the woman’s own child in any public place where the woman’s presence is otherwise authorized.” During my breastfeeding years, I nursed in public hundreds of times–including at least once in the rotunda at the Capitol–and was hardly ever hassled. My impression from acquaintances with babies and young toddlers is that it’s increasingly rare for employees in stores, restaurants, or other public places to ask nursing mothers to find an out-of-the-way spot.  

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